Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

4.1.1 Hebrew Understanding of the Spirit, Soul, and Body

As a society that has its roots in ancient Greek thought, Christians often find it difficult to give equal importance to each of the three components that make us up – the spirit, soul and body. Greek philosophy, on which much of the rationalism that characterize our Western educational sciences are based, regards what is spiritual and intellectual as more important than the physical and practical. 

The Hebrew understanding according to God’s Word, however, is different: It regards the spirit, soul and body as one unit. God created man in His own image (Gen 1:27), and this includes the various aspects of humanity. But “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,” (1Thes 5:23). 

Peter Scazzero summarizes the human personality into five separate components and warns that if we ignore even one aspect of what it means to be a man or woman in God’s image, there will be destructive effects on our relationship with God, others and ourselves (Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero).

In our western theology, there is a great temptation to gauge spiritual maturity based on the “spiritual appearance” of a person. One’s intellect is also highly valued. But a Christian can be spiritually stable, yet reach a breaking point. He can be an outwardly spiritual giant and still not endure until the end because he disregards the other components. Scazzero identifies different principles to having an emotionally healthy spirituality: 


  1. Look beneath the surface.
  • face your feelings
  • discard false thought patterns (e.g. I am what I do; I am what others think of me)
  • become secure in your own identity in Jesus
  1. Break the power of the past.
  • come to terms with the past
  • discover the patterns of the past at work in your life 
  1. Live in brokenness and vulnerability.
  • deal with inner issues to mature spiritually
  • abandon pride, greed, lust, anger, spiritual pleasure-seeking, spiritual envy, idleness
  • grow in true humility, trust in not knowing, patience in waiting on God, independence from earthly needs 
  1. Receive the gift of limits.
  • endurance in confusing or waiting times
  • accept gift of limitation
  • learn to forgive
  1. Embrace grieving and loss.
  • able to openly admit losses and disappointments

6. Make incarnation your model for loving well.

  • not me, but God and others are the center of my life.
  • deal maturely with conflict: Do not deny conflicts; deal with conflicts in love; learn to make peace 
  1. Slow down to lead with integrity.
  • allow yourself to be interrupted and to pause amidst the busyness
  • keep the Sabbath and use it to stop, to rest, to delight, and to contemplate God
  • to confront stress not with activism, but with prayer 

(Further writings for life as an emotionally healthy leader can be found in Emotional Healthy Leading by Peter Scazzero.)